Recently I have started to look at my own aging process in a more positive light. At 43, many would say that the best years of physical condition and fitness are behind me; but to be honest, in the last year or so I have felt more at home with myself and my physical limitations and capabilities as never before.
It is as if twenty years of pretty dedicated mental self growth has now entered the matrix of my body. I have been talking with my friend Rannoch Donald from Kettlebell Scotland and Simple Strength quite extensively about the physical maturation process and the athletic potentials that still exist in the human body from the late thirties up until the fifties and beyond.
I joke with him that 2000 years ago , the pair of us at similar age ( 42plus) would be considered at least in suo anno, meaning “in our year” , and if in Roman times would have been expected to be out leading legions in the field or arguing vociferously in the political forum ( which I note, modern people still do today, much to our chagrin).
A roman consul was expected to take over an army that was given him, see that it was trained properly along with its officer core (which in those days had to be as fit as their men), and then march that army wherever it was needed in the Roman Empire. Many armies marched 20 plus roman miles a day, sometimes to immediately take the field and give battle. This was hard physical work for everyone, from the top down; to top it all off, a camp was pitched ever night if on the move and built from scratch, built with palisade and ramped earthworks that were built by- you guessed it- manpower.
A roman general in charge of a province for a year would have to go on regular tours on inspection, border patrols, and training exercises in order to quell any thoughts of insurrection from the local populace. After a year was up, they would often march/ship their armies’ home and go back into public service. This officer often fought side by side with his men, and was expected to be where the fighting was thickest in order to inspire his troops.
To get back to my point, somewhere in the last 2000 years, and especially in the last century, [and maybe we should be blaming it on the post WW2 culture of focusing intensely on the youth], society suddenly got it in its mind that anyone over forty was old.
I have two words for those people: Brad Pitt. Two more: Tom Cruise, last one: Obama.
Yes, they were all kids, yes they were all brought up in this youth worshipping culture. And yes, they want to keep that mentality and level of fitness into their middle lives. These guys are all over forty years young and are leading vigorous lifestyles. And its not just these famous people, but many Mr. and Mrs. Joe average out there that re- learning that their lives are basically only half over, if that.
The people I worry about the most, though, are the large numbers of general public who have let themselves physically go by the mid to late thirties and just don’t see any public confirmation or societal support that they can really still keep it all together and balanced in this modern lifestyle of ours.
If society is not going to lead us, to educate us, and encourage us to take control over our lives and implement them to the fullest, then we must band together, educate ourselves and blaze a new path back to the past and then the here and now. I wonder how many of us are physically ready to step away from our nine to five desks and commit to a year of hard physical service as our ancestors did? Probably not too many of us. But the fact is, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Physical fitness, and sustaining that level of physical ability is achievable, especially in this modern age where we have so much knowledge about how the body and mind work. The great thing about kettlebells, body weight resistance training, or stretching, tai chi or yoga, in fact most of the more progressive forms of exercise, is that it keeps us limber and ready to grab life by the horns.
David wrote recently here at GKB of the physical freedom that he enjoys even at 60, and this is the way it should be, will be, if all of us at this juncture of our lives learn and share from our collective experiences to maximize our experience in a balanced and sustainable way.
My aim is to utilize the collective knowledge that surrounds me at the moment and inject it into my daily life as a living, breathing experiment on enjoying my life in a healthy and sustainable way. My body&s physical potential is in my mind, still untapped. Of course I will have to work within the parameters of a well run in engine, but each day I awake to a life bursting with potential. The key ingredient is me, my point of focus and personal discipline and determination. I have so many friends around me with so much knowledge, willing to share that with me and encourage me on this physical path called life, I have no excuse whatsoever to sit on my posterior and watch the world go by.
Life? Grab it by the horns! Or even better, by a kettlebell handle! But more of that next time!